Saturday, September 27, 2014

Small Business Saturday 2014

In about 2 months from now, we'll get another Small Business Saturday on November 29, 2014. I mentioned SBS before in the past few years. Basically, American Express is trying hard to promote smaller businesses so that more of these merchants will accept Amex cards.

Merchants generally don't want customers to pay with an Amex, because they're charged higher transaction processing fees than from Visa or Mastercard. But let's face it, Amex is here to stay, and merchants don't want to lose out on potential business by not accepting the credit cards their customers have.

In 2012, Amex offered a $25 statement credit on each registered Amex card whenever it was used to make a purchase of at least $25 at a qualifying small business. In 2013, they reduced it to $10 statement credits per Amex card. But regardless of the specific dollar amount, the best part of this promotion is that each one of your American Express cards could be registered (including multiple authorized user cards under a single master account).

This year, they're sticking with the $10 level, but allowing you to do it 3x per Amex card! Click here for details. So you can get $30 of free purchases for each of your Amex cards - as long as you break it up into 3 separate transactions. I won't go into all the details, since you can read about them at Frequent Miler's post here.

Imagine you had just 3 different Amex cards. That's up to $90 of free purchases as long as you spend it across 9 different transactions of $10 each. Not bad at all! Free Tip: Many local restaurants will qualify for Small Business Saturday and sell $10 gift certificates that can be used (and combined) for later.

Just remember, that to make your Amex cards eligible for Small Business Saturday, you need to sign up online and register each on Sunday, November 16th. It's a limited offer so don't wait too long.

So how many American Express cards does my family have? Well, let's just say we're in for a very, very busy Saturday, November 29th...

Friday, September 26, 2014

$5 off Shake Shack x 7

Madison Square Park is one of my family's favorite places to go. I frequent their playground quite often. And a big reason the park is on the map is thanks to Shake Shack, an extremely popular burger stand right in the middle of the park.

When the lines are reasonable, my parents and I try to get our Shackburger fix. It's not cheap by any means to feed a hungry family of 3 there, but American Express is making it a bit easier by offering a $5 statement credit when you use your Amex card and spend $15 at Shake Shack by November 17.

Part of my favorite things about having so many Amex cards is that they offer a lot of promotions where you can get statement credits for using your Amex card at specific merchants.

When you log into your American Express online account, you can see a tab called "Offers For You" where they list a bunch of these promotions. You just go through and hit the "Save Offer" button to accept the promotion and add it to your card account. Otherwise, you won't be eligible for the statement credit. However...
  1. Not everyone gets the same list of offers. 
  2. Not every Amex card on your profile has the same list of offers. 
  3. If you are lucky enough to have multiple Amex cards with the same offers, you're only supposed to get it on 1 Amex card. 
When you click on one "Save Offer" button, then that merchant promotion disappears from the other Amex cards on your profile. So you have to be careful about which Amex card you use for the promo.

BUT if you're sneaky, then a well known trick works to get the same merchant offer on multiple Amex cards. What you do is that you open multiple tabs in your browser and have each tab logged into a different Amex credit card. In my father's case, that would be a tab for his Starwood Amex, Starwood Business Amex, Hilton Amex and Everyday Amex.

Note the 4 Open Tabs
Then since each browser tab will be on a different card but showing the offer you want, you can now hit the "Save Offer" button on each tab and have each of your Amex cards eligible.

Fortunately for us, all 4 of my father's Amex cards had the Shake Shack offer as did all 3 of my mother's Amex cards. So we were able to sign up 7 of our Amex cards for the $5 off statement credit! Nice, huh?

But it's important to note that ONLY the primary card is eligible for the $5 statement credit. Meaning, if it's my mother's Amex Blue card (x1008), but my father is an secondary authorized user with his own card (x1102) on my mother's account, only my mother's primary card will work. We found out the hard way!

Realistically, we don't eat nearly enough Shake Shack food to take full advantage of our free $35. After all, we'd have to spend $105 there across 7 cards to get all our statement credits. But we'll probably go 1-2x in the next month and save a few bucks for just clicking a few buttons online.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Grandma's Golden!

The other week, I told you that it was my grandmother's birthday and she was spending the month in South Korea where we got her 3 nights in a suite at the Park Hyatt Busan.

Well, on her flight over to Seoul, she passed the 50,000 miles needed to hit United (Star Alliance) Gold Status for 2015! This year was the first time she qualified for any status whatsoever, so hitting mid-tier Gold is quite an achievement. In fact, she's reached Gold even before my father did this year.

As United frequent flyers know, to earn elite status, a US based passenger has to hit a few qualifications: (A) miles flown, (B) segments flown and (C) dollars spent. I won't go into all the specific qualification details and exceptions - as that's been overly discussed elsewhere - but my mother earned her United Gold status the hard way.

Here's how she reached 50,000 Premier Qualifying Miles (PQM) in just 4.5 trips:

1. Seoul, South Korea (January) for 18,869 PQM
2. Phoenix (January) for 2,153 PQM (one way)
3. Sydney, Australia (April) for 19,944 PQM
4. San Jose (May) for 4,402 PQM
5. Seoul, South Korea (September) for 7,497 PQM (one way)

Now, with United MileagePlus Gold status, she will get:
  • Complimentary access to Economy Plus® at booking for you and a companion, when available. 
  • Complimentary Premier Upgrade confirmation as early as 48 hours before departure. 
  • Complimentary bag check Check three standard-size bags at no charge, up to 70 pounds each. 
  • 50% Premier bonus award miles on United flights 
  • Star Alliance Gold benefits, including access to nearly 1,000 participating lounges worldwide with a boarding pass for same-day travel on any of our 25 member airlines
Well done, Grandma! Can I tag along on your next trip?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tax Efficient Charitable Contributions

This time of year is actually Tax Time for my father. I won't bore you with details (and honestly, there's only so much a 2.5 year old knows about taxes, so please don't treat this post as tax advice you can rely on), but he files for an extension every April and submits his final tax return in October every year.

Part of the reason we get to travel so frequently is because my father is smart about taxes. After all, the points/miles from frequent flyer programs, hotel loyalty programs and credit cards are tax-free rewards because they're treated as rebates.

Basic Example
Think about it this way. Let's imagine that Mickey paid $300 for a flight to Orlando. He was using after-tax money, so that flight really cost him about $400 of Mickey's pre-tax income (assuming he pays about 25% in state and federal taxes).

Donald, on the other hand, won a contest where he was given a free round trip ticket to Orlando. The value of that ticket was $300 (same as Mickey's ticket), but because he won it as a prize, the IRS will come asking him to recognize that value as earned income, thus he will have to actually pay $75 in cash for taxes on that "free" prize (assuming that same 25% total tax rate).

However, Minnie had enough frequent flyer miles to pay for the exact same flight to Orlando. First, those miles are treated as "rebates" (i.e., discounts), so they're not taxed as income when she receives or redeems them. Second, while Minnie saved $300 in cash by using her miles, she actually could have earned $400 less at her job and been financially equivalent to Mickey. Smart girl that one!

Charitable Donations
There's also a few other clever (but 100% legal) ways to reduce your tax hit every year. Here's a few background points to keep in mind to understand how this works:
  • Charitable Donations are not for lowering your taxes. They're for helping organizations and causes that resonate with your heart.
  • However, if you're going to make a charitable donation anyway, then you can lower your tax bill by taking a Charitable Donation Deduction to reduce your Adjusted Gross Income. 
  • If you sell any stocks that increased in value from the time you bought them, then you will likely have to pay taxes on that gain.
Imagine Daisy has 1 share of stock worth $100 today that she bought 3 years ago at $70. Because she recognizes how fortunate she is being healthy and employed, she wants to give back to those less fortunate and make a donation to her favorite charity. 

She has several options to choose from: (A) make a $100 cash donation, (B) sell her stock and then use that cash to make a $100 cash donation or (C) donate the share of stock directly to the charity. 

Option A
  • A deserving charity will get $100 more dollars to help delivery their mission.
  • Daisy will lower her Adjusted Gross Income by $100. Assuming the same 25% tax rate, she will lower her taxes by $25.
  • Daily will still own the stock, and it can go up/down over time. But whenever she does sell it, she will owe taxes on any gain.
  • So her tax benefit is $25 less any future capital gain tax.
Option B
  • A deserving charity will get $100 more dollars to help delivery their mission.
  • Daisy will still lower her taxable income by $25 initially.
  • She will also be hit with a Capital Gains tax on the $30 gain on her stock ($100 selling prices less $70 purchase price). Assuming a 15% rate, she will pay an additional $4.50 in taxes.
  • Daisy will keep the $100 in cash, but will no longer own the stock as she has sold it.
  • So her net tax benefit is $20.50 with no future tax liability.
Option C
  • The charity still gets $100 to help them. It will likely sell the stock and convert it to $100 cash.
  • Daisy will still lower her taxable income by $25 (no strings).
  • Daisy keeps $100 in cash, but will no longer own the stock as it was donated to the charity.
  • However, because it was donated to a charity (and not actually sold), Daisy will not have to pay any taxes on the historical $30 gain.
  • So her tax benefit is $25 with no future tax liability.
Clearly Option C appears to be the best strategy for Daisy from a tax standpoint.


"But Option A she gets to keep the stock. Isn't that better in case it continues to go up in value?"

Good point! Well, that brings up Option C2 - donate the share of stock directly to the charity AND use the $100 cash to buy back a new share of that same exact stock.
  • The charity still gets $100 to help them. It will likely sell the stock and convert it to $100 cash.
  • Daisy will still lower her taxable income by $25 (no strings).
  • Daisy uses that $100 in cash to buy-back the stock she donated to the charity.
  • However, because it was donated to a charity (and not actually sold), Daisy will not have to pay any taxes on the historical $30 gain.
  • So her tax benefit is $25 with no future tax liability on the original $30 stock price gain.
"But what's the point of doing all that if she is still out $100 cash and has that same share of stock. Isn't that the same thing as Option A?"

Not exactly. Yes, Daisy is still out $100 cash. Yes, she still owns the stock. But now, she owns the stock at a new $100 purchase price (cost basis), and any future gain will be calculated using the higher $100 purchase price. So that $4.50 tax (15% on the initial $30 gain) is completely eliminated from the equation.

"I've heard of something called the Wash Sale Rule against selling a stock and buying it back immediately for tax reasons."

Very good point, but that actually applies only for sneaky individuals looking to sell at a LOSS. Those tricky traders are trying to both (a) realize stock losses to offset other income or gains and (b) buy-back that stock to benefit from any future price increase. That way, they would get an immediate tax benefit and still own the stock (albeit at a lower cost basis).

However, because Daisy is selling at a GAIN, there's no tax evasion. In fact, you're realizing a taxable event where you pay taxes. But, of course, because the stock was donated to a charity, that tax is waived.

"Big deal, she saved $4.50."

Well, yes, at 1 share worth $100, the tax implications seem pretty small. However, in reality, individual donors are often making 10-100x the size of this donation, so that $4.50 in tax savings can quickly become $45-450. And further, many smart investors bought today's $100 stocks at just $1 years ago, so that's 15% of a much bigger capital gain...

So as we get closer to next month's October 15 Tax Return Filing deadline, my father is actually getting excited about actually receiving some money back from the IRS.

More to put into our 2015 Vacation Fund!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Happy Birthday Grandma!

It was recently my grandmother's birthday, so we wanted to do something special for her. Unfortunately, she was spending a few weeks in South Korea visiting her sisters, so we'd have to wait until she was back in NYC to celebrate.

However, one of the wonderful things about hotel loyalty points is that you can use them for your friends/family to book them rooms.

So when my grandmother said she was going to visit Busan, the "San Francisco of South Korea," my father went online to see what her hotel options were. As it turned out, according to TripAdvisor, the best hotel in the city was The Park Hyatt Busan.

The Park Hyatt is a Category 4 luxury hotel that can be booked using Hyatt Gold Passport points (just 15,000 pts/night). Compared to the Park Hyatt hotels in New York, Tokyo and Paris (30,000 pts/night), the Busan location is a great value. We really enjoyed the few Park Hyatts we've been fortunate enough to visit, including:
Now, we didn't have a stash of Hyatt Gold Passport points to redeem at the time, but we knew that we could just transfer our Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt (1:1 ratio) which would go through instantly.

Since my grandmother wanted this trip to be a bit more special, she wanted a few of her sisters to come with her. So my father booked 3 nights for her in a Park Twin Suite (24,000 Hyatt points/night) which would have cost $501 USD/night. So he redeemed Chase UR points for 2.1 cents/pt. Not amazing, but definitely fair given how easy it's been to earn Chase UR points (5x at office supply stores/cell phone and 2x on dining/travel).

So he called up Hyatt, confirmed suite availability for the desired dates and then transferred his Chase UR points into Hyatt. The phone representative confirmed the booking and sent him an email with the reservation details. Then my father asked to put my grandmother's name on the reservation so that she could check in upon arrival without any problems. After she heard, my grandmother got pretty excited. According to the hotel's website, the Park Twin Suite is described as:

Wood and textile decor in warm beige tones welcomes visitors to this 81½-square-metre suite which comes appointed with two twin beds and a separate lounge area including a large lounge room 4 seat dining table. Floor-to-ceiling windows let the outside world in, granting views of the city and Busan Marina. A separate rain shower and tub, plus additional TV complement the bathroom's polished granite surfaces, and guests can enjoy both free WiFi and access to fitness center and indoor swimming pool.

Unfortunately, my father's Hyatt Diamond status expired earlier this year, so no complimentary breakfast for my mother and her sisters each morning. But I have no doubt that they'll find some great food in Busan.

Happy Birthday, Grandma!!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Starwood Platinum for 2015

As mentioned in an earlier post, we just renewed my father's Starwood Platinum status for another year (ending February 2016) by reaching 25 stays this year.

We wouldn't have been able to reach this level of hotel loyalty status without (a) having the Starwood American Express business and personal credit cards which give 2 stay/5 night credits for each card and (b) Starwood giving elite earning credit for award stays (i.e., stays using points).

Our 25th stay in 2014 actually came on Thursday night at the Sheraton Suites in Elk Grove Village. Having Platinum status with Starwood really enhances our travel, primarily because we often get a room upgrade to a larger room, including suites, access to club lounges (if available), as well as complimentary (continental) breakfast.

For a list of some of the Starwood hotels we've stayed at this year, check out:

However, our 25th stay only gave us 48 nights for the year. While 25 stays can earn you Platinum status, only way to get the 10 Suite Night Awards is to hit 50 nights. Fortunately, we needed to stay 2 additional nights before we came back home, so it worked out perfectly.

So yesterday morning, when our 50th night at the Four Points O'Hare posted to our account, we received another email.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cheap Chicago Weekend

Well, to be completely fair, we didn't actually go into downtown Chicago. We spent 4 days (3 nights) in the Northwest suburbs for my father's small business and to visit my friends Jack & Connor.

Nevertheless, including flights, transportation and hotels, we got through this weekend trip having spent just $143 out of pocket. Here's how we did it.

We had to get from our apartment in Manhattan (Flatiron/Chelsea) to LaGuardia at 6AM. LGA Airport is the closest NYC airport and has the shortest security lines, though it also has the least amenities. But to save time and money, we prefer flying out of LGA. We just caught a regular NYC Yellow Cab and it cost us $41 including tolls and tip. Since it was a business trip expense, we put it on my father's Business Starwood American Express.

Cash out of pocket: $41

From LGA-ORD, we used 7,500 Avios + $5.60 for each one way tickets on American Airlines. We were lucky that the aircraft used was one of American's newer configurations, with a revamped main cabin seat and sleek touch screen in-flight entertainment system. Unfortunately, they charged for most shows and movies, so we just caught up on our sleep.

Our return flight home used the same British Airways Avios redemption scheme. So another 7,500 Avios + $5.60 per person. Unfortunately, the return flight was less than ideal: (a) not on the new aircraft with no entertainment system, (b) we were seated in the very last row, (c) it ended up delayed 2 hours and (d) being 2.5 years old, I had a screaming fit for a good 30 minutes for an unknown reason. But it still cost us just $17 in taxes for 3 passengers.

Cash out of pocket: $34

Given my father was just 3 nights away from hitting 2015 Starwood Platinum status, we decided to focus all our hotel stays with them. Fortunately, we had a Sheraton Suites nearby in Elk Grove Village and they had availability to book with points. Thursday and Friday nights were 3,000 and 4,000 SPG points, respectively, for a free night award. So 7,000 SPG points got us 2 free nights with no cash out of pocket. Because my father was a 2014 SPG Platinum elite, we also received (a) 500 SPG points as a welcome gift, (b) free wifi, (c) free access to the Sheraton Club Lounge where we could have complimentary breakfast and evening snacks and soft drinks.

For our final night, we decided to stay closer to O'Hare Airport given we didn't want to be rushed in the morning. So we stayed at another Starwood hotel - Four Points O'Hare in Schiller Park. While not the most glamorous location, behind an office building construction site and BP gas station, it served its purpose of having a clean place to sleep the night before our flight home. For just 3,000 SPG points, we had another free hotel night with (a) 250 SPG as a welcome gift and (b) free wifi internet. The Four Points did not, however, have a lounge for free breakfast in the morning, but they did offer a free airport shuttle every 20 minutes.

Cash out of pocket: $0

To get from our friend's place to The Four Points in Schiller Park, we used my father's Uber account. They're currently giving away Free Rides (up to $30) for new sign ups. We weren't entirely sure how much the ride would be, but it ended up being just $23 (including tolls)! By way of comparison, a few months earlier when my father took a regular taxi from ORD Airport to Rolling Meadows (15 miles or about 20 minutes), it ran him about $55 (more than double).

And after we landed in NYC, to get home, we took a regular NYC taxi from the "secret" taxi stand and it ran us another $45 (including tip and toll).

Cash out of pocket: $68

So for a 3 night long weekend vacation/work trip, we only spent $143 in cash in travel (of which $86 for NYC taxi rides to/from LGA Airport). That's just $48/night! Obviously, we spent money on food, but we would have spent that anyway had we stayed at home. But it was a great way to see my best friends for a very reasonable amount of money.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chicago for $6/person

Flight #94 – American Airlines 315
New York (LGA) – Chicago (ORD)
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Depart: 7:29AM / Arrive: 8:59AM
Seat: Economy
Earned: 0 miles (733 miles flown)
Cost: 7,500 Avios / person + $6
Regular Price: $160 / person
Mile Redemption: 2.1 cents/mile
Lifetime Miles: 186,217 miles

After a month off, we're finally back traveling. While this is more of a work trip for my father's small business, my mother and I are tagging along to visit our friends Jack & Connor and their parents. Because we're so points/miles heavy these days, we decided to use one of our favorite mile redemptions -- the short-haul flight on American Airlines using British Airways Avios.

Remember, British Airways Avios is a distance based program. Since NYC-Chicago is about 733 miles apart, this would fall into the 7,500 Avios redemption band for our one-way flight. We only had to pay cash for the associated taxes (about $5.60/person).

Just 83 miles closer and it would have saved us 40%!!! But compared to the typical 12,500 frequent flyer miles it would normally cost on American, United or Delta, we're very thankful to pay only 7,500 Avios and $6 per person.

We did this Avios for AA redemption back in December when we flew NYC-Puerto Rico roundtrip for just 20,000 Avios miles (vs. 35,000 AA miles). My father also "used" this redemption when he was trying to get his lost passport replacement expedited. You can read those other posts if you want the details behind the Avios program and how to redeem them on American Airline flights.

Now, since my father has his new Citi American Airlines Mastercard, he gets the benefits associated with the credit card on his American flights, including free checked bags and priority boarding, but only when his AA frequent flyer # is on the reservation. But when you make an Avios booking, it automatically puts your BA frequent flyer # on the reservation and AA's website can't update it.

Last time, he still got TSA Pre-Check and priority boarding without having this AA number on the reservation. But just in case, my father went to Finnair's website (a OneWorld partner of American Airlines and British Airways) to find his reservation and update his frequent flyer #.  It's important to note that BA has its own reservation code and American has a different one. But to find it on Finnair, you use the BA one.

Now when it came time to selecting seats, my father remembered why he liked having elite status on United. We weren't able to pre-select seats together, and had to pick from a variety of middle seats in different rows. So we picked seats 21B, 22 B and 23B. Since he knew that the airlines alway keeps a few seats together for families traveling together, he knew we'd get re-seated at check in. And worst case, I'm sure someone would give up their aisle/window seat to avoid being seated next to a 2.5 year old sitting by herself.

We were able to get a direct flight on American Airines for a fraction of the miles normally required. So thanks to BA Avios, we're able to spend some quality time with our good friends in Chicago. Unfortunately, this Chicago trip is just a long weekend. In fact, we didn't find great availability on the return back to NYC, so we're flying back home Sunday at 12:30PM. I suppose that will be good for us to get back to our apartment by 4PM, but it would have been nice to spend all day Sunday relaxing with my buddies.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

People You Meet in NYC

This has absolutely nothing to do with Traveling or Credit Cards, but it was too big not to post. When she's not being an amazing mother of the year, my dear mother works a part time job. This job has the good fortune of having a lot of foot traffic...celebrity foot traffic. In fact, here's a recent photo of her and UK soccer player footballer / global superstar, David Beckham.

I think he was in town for NYC Fashion Week since his wife, Victoria Beckham (aka Posh Spice), is a fashion designer now. The photo even got around to Victoria's Instagram feed.

You gotta love New York City!  Maybe the Beckhams could stop by my father's small business too.

Monday, September 8, 2014

IHG Into the Night Promo

InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) is a great secondary or tertiary hotel chain to have in your rotation. While my parents and I prefer Starwood as our primary, the simple facts are:

(a) They don't always have a hotel you want to stay at in every location you want to go

(b) Free/easy points from another chain shouldn't be overlooked out of "loyalty"

I know...I know... No one loves staying at a Holiday Inn, but I have to say, the brand is quite stellar outside the United States. For example, we had a great one-night stay at the Chiang Mai Holiday Inn in Thailand last year. And since we had Platinum status (that came with the Chase IHG credit card), we were upgraded to a massive suite.

But of course, IHG has more premier brands, including their higher end InterContinental Hotels. This is the IHG brand that we usually stay at when we don't find a Starwood or Hyatt. For example, we were lucky enough to stay at the InterContinental Hotels at Berchtesgaden (Germany), San Juan Puerto RicoHong Kong and De La Ville Rome.

 Most of these stays were on points or free night certificates. But how did we get all those points?

1. Chase IHG Visa (80,000 points plus a free night award certificate every year)
2. IHG Seasonal Promotions (~150,000 points)

The biggest promotion of 2013 was called the IHG Big Win. From signing up and completing a series of customized challenges (staying 5 nights at 3 different hotel brands in 2 cities), my father earned 91,700 IHG points - with about half of them as a super bonus for completing all the tasks. We used those points to stay 2 nights at the InterContinental De La Ville in Rome (worth ~$1,000 at $499/night).

This year, IHG kept the same concept but called it their "Into the Night" Promotion. This year, my father has an opportunity to earn 30,000 points PLUS either (a) 30,000 bonus points or (b) 2 free nights. Assuming the Free Nights are not restricted, that's probably the better bet than the 30k points, given my family's travel patterns often take us to hotels that cost over 15,000 points/night.

Unfortunately, this year, my father's personal challenges require (a) 7 nights instead of last year's 5 nights and (b) 2 international stays. Given we're not planning to travel internationally in the next several months, it looks like my father won't be able to complete the full list. And the smaller individual bonuses aren't worth going out of our way for.

My mother's challenges, however, were a lot better. First, she only had to complete 4 of 5 tasks to win, and second, a single $113 (including tax) stay at the EVEN Hotel in Norwalk, CT could net her 27,700 IHG points. Then one more Saturday night stay anywhere else (let's just say at $100/night), would get us another 8,000 IHG points + 2 free nights.

However, if someone were to sign up for a completely new IHG account with a different email address, then they would receive the "standard" offer for all new IHG members (see below), which is a lot easier to achieve for those coveted 2 free nights.

So under this "new member" scheme, staying just 3 nights at 2 different Holiday Inns (for about $100/night) over a few Saturdays  would earn us 2 free nights at any IHG property, including those expensive amazing InterContinentals we mentioned above or even the one in Bora Bora. Sounds pretty compelling now, doesn't it?

What scheme were you given this year? Are you going for it?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

100,000 Page Views

It kind of snuck up on me, but my little LCD blog has just surpassed 100,000 pageviews sometime yesterday. Now, I'm not that excited, because it just means my parents hit F5 refresh about 50,000 times, but 100,000 is a nice round number.

Since we haven't been traveling at all in August, I've been posting more about our credit card rewards and strategies.

Thankfully, we're off to Chicago next week to check up on our friend's small business, Five Star Painting IL. But until then, I thought I'd check out Google Analytics and see which of my 360+ posts were the most viewed.

10. US Airways $99 Companion Pass (January 13, 2014) - 599 views

9. Hyatt Diamond Challenge Update (April 18, 2013) - 605 views

8. Flying Asiana to LAX (March 9, 2013) - 647 views

7. Flight to Tel Aviv Part 2 (January 17, 2013) - 657 views

6. Israel trip Intro (January 14, 2013) - 666 views

5. Global Entry Interview (May 24, 2013) - 774 views

4. Amex Platinum (January 6, 2014) - 790 views

3. Looking Hard at Hyatt (March 12, 2013) - 829 views

2. Travel Credit Cards - Chapter 5 Meeting Minimum Spend (April 15, 2013) - 1,082 views

1. Getting to Railay Beach (March 5, 2013) - 1,381 views